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Southwest Airlines® becomes a full GDS participant with Travelport — a game changing development for US agencies

May 06, 2020
Jason Toothman
By 
Jason Toothman

During these challenging times, Travelport is calibrating towards a brighter future, and progressing actions that will make the travel industry emerge stronger than ever. As part of this announcement, we recently shared some positive and exciting news for our US agency customers. As of May 4,2020, Travelport is the first GDS to have Southwest Airlines available as a full participant. Read the full press release.

Here we outline the benefits to your agency — and how this development could help facilitate recovery in the travel industry.

Southwest Airlines offers are now bookable through Travelport

In Summer 2019, we announced that we would be expanding our partnership with Southwest Airlines to increase their participation on our platform. We are pleased to share that together; we have reached a new milestone on that journey. As of May 4,2020, it is now possible for US agencies (who have received approval) to search and book a wide range of Southwest Airlines’ content through the Travelport GDS.

Southwest Airline is the largest domestic airline in the United States by customer numbers — which is indicative of the volume of bookings the airline processes. Until now, Southwest required agents to use its website and an amalgamation of different tools such as Swabiz to book, change, or cancel flights. Agencies have observed that this is not the most efficient way for them to work, and say they would prefer to carry out operations via the GDS instead.

It should come as no surprise that Southwest expanding their partnership with Travelport has been very well received by our US agency network. Leslie Muus, Executive Director at Travel Leaders, John’s Creek said “This has been a long time coming that we want this. Our agents are ready to start booking and they want to be the first ones to use it. They’re very excited about this change”.

How will Southwest Airlines’ full GDS participation benefit my agency?

From conversations with our US agency network, we understand that this addition will have a transformative effect on the way they do business. These are the key advantages that we foresee for them:

1. Simpler, streamlined workflow:

The most obvious benefit for agencies is a more convenient workflow. Agents can now find information faster, and since they can better visualize, understand, and compare offers they can provide customers with more booking options. Best of all, bookings can be done directly instead of having to leave the GDS — while still following the same process as any other ARC GDS booking, including automation of exchanges. Agents can also benefit from better visibility into flight inclusions for better understanding terms and conditions, and can offer post-booking servicing since they have access to all content in one place.

2. Significant time-saving:

Until now, agents had to pick up the phone and call to change Southwest Airlines flights. This process could be time-consuming and put added pressure on resources — especially for small agencies with few staff. US agents can now conduct these operations in the GDS, freeing up time for more strategic activities. And, when you book Southwest via Travelport, you have access to the same budget-friendly policies available on Southwest’s website, including:
- Access to branded fares (Wanna Get Away® fares)
- No change fees (A fare difference might apply)

3. Better customer service:

A simpler, time-saving workflow enables agents to provide a more attentive, personal customer experience. This enhancement brings about greater customer satisfaction — which is key to engendering loyalty and securing repeat business.

Sandy Solly, Chief Financial Officer at Classic World Travel added: “Now we can give good customer service, we can find things right away, we can look at more options for the client — so this is really a big deal for us”.

4. Potential to generate more revenue:

The combination of the points above result in enhanced productivity and the potential to generate additional revenue for your agency. Additionally, since no other GDS currently offers Southwest Airlines content in this manner, Travelport’s US agencies now have a key competitive advantage.

Southwest Airlines opens service in Liberia, Costa Rica

New efficiencies will bolster US agencies throughout recovery

We believe this change is coming to fruition at just the right time. Right now, even small operational improvements go a long way to making life easier for agencies mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on their business. The time our US agency customers will save — particularly smaller ones — positions them to offer better customer service when it matters most.

Furthermore, as the only platform currently offering full Southwest Airlines GDS participation, Travelport can offer US agencies the best possible competitive advantage during the recovery period ahead.

Looking ahead to the future of travel, this initiative is a great example of how the supply and demand sides of the industry can work together to facilitate mutual recovery and emerge stronger together. Agencies know the potential they hold to drive airline revenue and pursue further growth — and vice versa. This two-way support will be key for both parties in rebuilding a pipeline of revenue in the coming months. Leslie Muus, Executive Director at Travel Leaders said, “Southwest being in the GDS is a game-changer”.

Both Travelport and Southwest are proud to be bringing about this new way for agencies to work more productively and to drive their revenue.

Our C&I Team is first in class and they are here to ease any migration/conversion concerns for an easy and seamless transition. If you would like more information on what this announcement means for your agency, please contact us today.